A Review of Governor Wangamati’s Financial Prudence in Bungoma County. Has it Worked?

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Bungoma H.E Governor Wycliffe Wangamati addresses contractors and suppliers at Mabanga in Bungoma. PHOTO/GPS

The last three weeks have witnessed a series of headlines in blogs, dailies and social media where Governors have consistently been agitating for the release of more funds from the national treasury.

The move saw Governors and Senators move to Supreme Court while the media was awash with various opinions and views on how the devolved units are using the funds.

The climax must have been President Uhuru Kenyatta’s final declaration that the parent government has no extra cash (Sisi hatuna pesa) for counties and directed the County Chiefs to ‘work with what they have’. A blow, right?

Immediately the country’s Number One dismissed the Governors’ demands, several Kenyans took to social media platforms to question the financial prudence in devolved governments with some heads of counties being arrested for bogus, shameless, pathetic, shambolic mismanagement of public funds.

According to Herofincorp.Com, financial prudence basically means planning well in advance and investing in areas where you can expect high returns. It also means having complete knowledge about the money you have and how you can make it grow best.

In our subsequent editorias, we shall be reviewing financial prudence in all the 47 Counties, in this particular, starting with Bungoma County. Being among counties that receive a big share of the national funding, Bungoma County is a key devolved unit whose success or failure is looked upon by all.

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When Governor Wycliffe Wangamati assumed the leadership of Bungoma County, he promised competency in accountability of public funds after accusing the former regime of wastage of public funds and poor financial prudence.

To curb such cases under his leadership, the actuarial scientist first banned official meetings from taking place in luxurious hotels outside Bungoma County as well as cutting unnecessary foreign trips. Months down the line, the initiative seems to have proofed a success especially with the introduction of the county’s scholarship kitty that’s benefiting many students across the county. However, is the Financial Prudence working under Governor Wangamati?

Since assuming office, the Governor has spent Sh800M for ECDE Teachers, an unprecedented commitment under devolution. ECDE teachers now earn a basic salary of Sh20,000 each right from Sh8,000 under the previous government.

The salary increment announced by Governor Wangamati came as sweet melody to the more than 2,000 teachers who had been earning peanuts.

In the health sector, what the Governor has tried to curb is the doctor’s strike. While other governors had brushed with the medics, Wangamati has ensured a Sh400M Collective Bargaining Agreement with the doctors to keep them at work. The prompt payments to KEMSA has also ensured health facilities are kept abreast with medicine and equipments. This is in addition to working with partners to better the sector through infrastructure support, resources and medical camps.

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Additionally, the County has a budget of Sh70M for Community Health Volunteers. Currently, the County has over 3500 CHVs across the county who are on a county stipend offering first hand health services.
While meeting over 50 contractors at Mabanga in Kanduyi Constituency a few days ago, the Governor revealed that they have managed to reduce the pending bills from Sh1.4B inherited under the previous regime to 210M as payment owed to contractors.

To avoid poor service delivery from suppliers and contractors, the governor promised to initiate full payments between 30 to 45 days. This, he directed all contractors, to complete their work within their stipulated time.

His leadership has managed to attract Sh2 billion donor funds from the World Bank and Sh1B from UKAid for the creation and development of Municipalities in Bungoma. Bungoma Municipality is among 12 other centres that were awarded the kitty by SUED that’s aimed to support infrastructure and the value chain sector in the soon to be expanded Municipality.

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Receiving such amount of grants from foreign organs requires a lot of competence in financial records and management on the side of the recipient, in this case, the county management.

This comes amid the ongoing flagship projects with the Dual Carriageway from Kanduyi to Musikoma junction at the tune of Sh1.3B and the upgrade of Masinde Muliro Stadium as well as the milk processing plant that is expected to be up by 2021.

With such stringent measures and fundings beyond the normal treasury allocation and other harmonisations that include the strict and timely payment of staff salaries, the former corporate magnate must have found a good mix of Development and expenditure to attain the needed financial prudence of Bungoma County, a situation that has struggled many Counties.

In our next editorial, we shall publish the spotted risks and weaknesses in Governor Wangamati’s regime and how they have or will affect the common mwananchi.

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Simiyu Wakajuaness

Blogger Simiyu Wakajuaness is a scriptwriter, actor and stage director with ardent passion in the media and public relations in this digital world. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook on the icons below...

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